Reaching the breaking point

Are you like me? A bit overwhelmed with stuff and constantly feeling like you need to get “organized”? I’ve been letting it stress me lately.

I’ve always been a pack rat but I’ve just realize why I’m reaching my limits now with trying to find space and organize all the stuff (files, books, clothes, photos, and yes fabric and yarn too). During our 30 years together we have moved very frequently and each move has created the opportunity for me to declutter and reorganize – to shred files, to donate clothing and books, etc and we’ve been here in the Tampa house for 4 and a half years now (that’s a long time for us!) and since we aren’t going to move anytime soon, I know I need to start decluttering. I also need to do a better job of putting things away instead of just setting them down.

Out of curiosity last night I did a google search and read several articles about the difference between hoarding and being a pack rat. Like I said, luckily our moves have forced me to control the amount of stuff I have but it makes me wonder what it would look like around here if we’d lived in the same house for 31 years??

It’s a little scary reading the articles when they talk about hoarders having emotional attachment to their stuff which makes it difficult to let it go. I feel that attachment too and I know it’s probably not going to change but I am going to work on decluttering. It’s overwhelming to think about tackling the whole house so I’ll just do a little each day … if only a single drawer.

Today I tackled the top of my desk … things not being used were put away, stacks of papers were shredded and some were filed … I’m sure that some of the filed papers could/should have been shredded but I’ll take some progress rather than allowing it to paralyze me and prevent me from doing anything.

I also took a couple passes in the closet … pulling clothes to donate. I know the experts don’t agree but doing it in stages works for me. I haven’t even looked at the shoes and bags yet but I’ll go through the closet several more times and hopefully each time, will be comfortable pulling more stuff out to get rid of.

Would you be surprised to hear that in all of this, the size of my fabric and yarn stash really isn’t bothering me and that I’m not looking to downsize them because I actively use both?! What I will be working on is not adding to the stash indiscriminately. I’ve shared with you before that I have trouble resisting good sales on fabric and yarn and I’m not saying that I’m not going to shop the sales but I am going to work on resisting buying JUST because it’s on sale!

I’ve probably given you the wrong impression here … my house is perfectly presentable for the most part ( I admit the sewing room can get very messy as can the area around the chair in my bedroom where I crochet, knit, and bind) but since I’ve reached the point where it’s stressing me, it’s time to do something about it before it becomes more of a problem!


  1. Hoarders keep trash, stacks and stacks of newspapers and magazines from floor to ceiling and loads of junk. You are obviously NOT a hoarder at all. As for the experts, you are the only expert who can organize your things. I’m sure you are not concerned about how much fabric or yarn you have because that’s your charity work and you are constantly making quilts, blankets and hats to keep those less fortunate warm. And how many times this past year did you say that you purchased fabric and yarn that was on sale without something in mind, but was so happy to have it for something you wanted to make?
    And — we’ve all seen many photos of your home and it always looks wonderful!

  2. You know, it’s probably harder for quilters since we can use even the smallest piece of fabric and batting in “something” . . . eventually. LOL

    I’ve found Marie Kondo’s book to be helpful. When I clean out the closet, I call the office of the local woman’s shelter and see what they are in need of. Last trip it was clothing, hand bags, and some jewelry. Folks who flee with nothing, need everything. I’m sure you’ll have everything in shape very soon. Happy holidays.

    • That’s a really good idea & a generous & welcome gesture. I used to work at a women’s shelter & you’re right… when you’re in that type distress, “your stuff” is the last thing on your mind. Thank you for being so thoughtful. I know all there appreciate it.

  3. A very recognizable feeling and I admire your quick dedication to solving the issue! Personally I notice I’m getting overwelmed because of 2 reasons: 1) messy house with stuff scattered around everywhere 2) too many things going on or too many different creative projects I’m actively working on. My goal is to use December to finish projects, discard some and order my home. Also, I am going to decide which project and work I want to focus on and which ideas I’m going to let be for now. Hopefully this will bring me peace 🙂

    • I second those emotions, too. After being sick & out of commission for 3 (!) months, I’m so far behind… right here around the holidays to boot! So, I’ve been trying to do too many things at once, doing them poorly & then stressing about the whole mess of it all. I need to follow your lead — pick a project to finish, finish it & then move on to the next. Maybe 2020 will be better in that regard. Just to get thru the holidays… Good luck to you, too!

  4. I try to get 5 things a day out of the house. It can be shredded, trashed, donated or used. Amazing how my closets are emptying. Fabric is another issue. I use up so much and don’t purchase till the shelves are at least half empty.

  5. Oh my, I do understand. I’m in the process of moving after 23 yrs. I remember telling myself I would get rid of stuff in this house but here I am in the same boat facing not only my own stuff but other family members things that needed someone to go through. It is very stressful. I enjoy reading your blog.

  6. I am a hoarder I am emotionally attached to fabrics and pictures. The rest can go. Unfortunately my husband is attached to gadgets and woodworking stuff. Our hobbies require stuff and lots of room. We still have space in our small home and life is good. You are way too organized to be a hoarder.

    • Oh, until you reminded me, I’d conveniently forgotten that my DH also has more stuff than he could use in 88 lifetimes. Our living room has turned into his office/music room/guitar storage facility. Argh! How does this happen? I’m not even sure mere “organizing” is going to cut it at this point. I think it’s time we both part of some of our “treasures”.

  7. I understand completely. I’ve read books and articles about cleaning out our stuff. I’ve decided to do it in stages too. I am not Marie Kondo! I sent boxes of fabrics and misc sewing items to the Native American reservations through The French General project. I have great love and memories from many things in my house and I will keep them forever. My house looks really nice but I know I have too much. We decided to sell our 1700 square foot river cottage and I brought so many things home that I loved and now have to decide what to do with. Then after being in Texas recently in a camper, we decided to sell it too. So now I have tons of stuff to go through and decide what will go inside our RV that we will keep. I know most people do not have both a camper and an RV, but we have reasons why we did. I know that when I look at various things in my house memories come to me of the many family members I have loved and who are now deceased. I am the last one now. I have next year to clean, right now I’m going to enjoy the holidays.

  8. O yes–I totally “get it”; so, I’ve dialed back my speed to VERY SLOW..and took about 2 weeks off from anything except reading and necessary tasks around the house–which included really going through all of my “stuff”, too. I am no longer feeling pressured by my own pre-set deadlines…it’s supposed to be F U N ;))) good luck hugs, Julierose

  9. Good for you for tackling it now! I don’t know that experts know it all. 1 focus at a time is great! 1 drawer is doable mentally.

    Shoes and bags? Choose 1 category, get them ALL out and on the floor. Put back what you use consistently month to month. Now you can tackle the rest: special occasion-must keeps, donate/sell the rest.

    We did this about 25y ago (we’re 28y in our home). We emptied the entire room into the garage. Only half came back in. It’s a bit radical but it works! We still have empty space as we became very mindful about acquisition.

    Enjoy the journey.

  10. Oh gee, I could have written this post. My house is not cluttered, except sometimes there are too many things left on the kitchen counter. You know it got bad when Terry comes in and says the kitchen looks nice after I put away all things that don’t belong. LOL My “room” is another matter. I AM attached to things in my room but have been doing a good job of re-organizing and disposing of some things. I got rid of a lot of clothes when the season changed. MY biggest problem is that it takes so much time that I would rather use doing something else. The small chunk of time works sometimes, but sometimes I forget and the day is gone. SMH. We have lived here since 1976. When it comes to Terry’s stuff…well the kids will have to deal with it when we are gone because he is so attached that he looks through the bags that I collect for Goodwill in case he still wants something I don’t. SMH
    Merry Christmas.
    xx, Carol

  11. I’m laughing out loud! I know I said I didn’t like to login to comment but you want to know what your house would look look like. My HOUSE! I lived here with my parents, move out for 3 years (didn’t take everything (stash and yarn) with me. Bought the house from my parents and have lived here for 28 years. so again MY HOUSE! lol! And I just realized I could you my AOL address!

  12. I stopped trying to rationalize the size of my fabric and yarn collections years ago. They are a source of comfort and joy, and I can make quilts til I die with what I have! We have only moved twice in 44 years, so I haven’t been weeding & culling as much as you, but the last move (CA to OH) was 3 years ago. Our kids made it clear they didn’t want 98% of what we wanted to eliminate — unnerving, but we left a LOT in CA. It was freeing, to tell the truth. I won’t try to get anything unrelated to Christmas done this month, but I’ve decided January is the month I will dedicate to going through all the fabric bins and undo all the cramming I did when we moved. I’m still looking for some kits and UFOs. It’s a process, I’m old, and I’ll enjoy seeing those old friends again. No hurry!

  13. I can certainly relate to this post. We recently had new carpet put in the entire house and that gave me the opportunity to purge and reorganize the rooms. But that was a couple of months ago and I am already feeling disorganized and overwhelmed. Maybe it’s the season and the fact that I have not been able to get the sewing done that I wanted to and the material is laying around my sewing room. And I have only partially decorated and the rest is just waiting to be put somewhere. And my house is a mess right now and that drives me crazy!! We have moved 11 times in 36 yrs and it is a great way to weed out the stuff you no longer need or want. We have been in this house for over 5 yrs. We are getting the itch to move again but honestly don’t know where that would be. I like to stay close to family so we will probably stay here. Everyone is within 20 miles and that includes 5 kids, 8 grandkids and 1 great granddaughter. So I guess we’ll just scratch our itch and be happy we are blessed with a nice home and family. Your desk looks nice and organized BTW. One step at a time. Just don’t try and organize pictures. That takes up an entire week just looking and reminiscing.

  14. I am a constant purger. I keep a box or bag next to the door and one in the garage. When I come across something I don’t need it goes out the door.

  15. It was so much fun reading all of the comments and see that lots of us are in the same situation. I have lived in the same house 47 years. I have been getting rid of things but it still looks like a lot of stuff in here. I also am not bothered by the amount of fabric I have because it is fun to shop my stash at 11 p.m for a new project and have everything I need right here.

  16. I can relate to you and all the commenters here. I agree to a point with (so-called expert) Marie Kondo, to only keep the things you love (or really need). But I find her methods to be a bit extreme for most of us. I would love to see her find a fabric in my collection that I didn’t manage to rationalize a “need” to keep. LOL
    I recommend a book “Decluttering at the speed of life” by Dana White, which I recently borrowed from the library. She has a much more realistic approach which would work for most of us.
    We have lived in our home since 1986, and some stuff from both sets of deceased parents have found their way here too. And yet it still looks presentable. I guess I am just good at filling the spaces neatly! It could be better (more empty spaces), but is ok enough.
    Wishing you all the best with your journey on this Mary. You will know when you have done enough.

  17. My granddaughter (5 years old) recently told me my house was perfect except for my messy sewing room. However, a 5 year old’s standards of neatness isn’t that high.

  18. I’m sorry… are we the same person? Seriously. I was just thinking almost ALL of these EXACT thoughts today as I looked at the mess that is my sewing room (including the SUPREME mess that is my sewing table — much more junk if it & sewing will have to cease), the chaos that is my master closet, the works… agh! Like you, we used to move frequently & don’t anymore (& I never plan to again). So the stuff just keeps coming in the door & piling up. And yet, like you… SALE? I NEED more fabric. Uh, no I don’t. I need to get what I already have more organized so I can “shop my stash” more often. So, yeah… 2020 is gonna see more sewing (that’ll clear out some fabric… hopefully). Oh, & for the “professional organizers” (Marie Kondo)… I know they mean well, but, like you say, different methods work for different people & different “stashes” so whatever works for you, right? We should all make a pact to give each other gentle reminders…

  19. How funny, I was just thinking about this last night! I get overwhelmed very easily and can’t get started, so my boyfriend has offered to help me this weekend. I’m looking forward to having some spare seats in my living room again once all the crafting paraphernalia/bags/books/scarves/etc are tidied away!

    • KRC you & I me both. Hey, you never know when you’ll need a good box of a certain size!

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